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February 2001
 Into 2001

O Christ the same through all our story‘s pages,
Our loves and hopes, our failures and our fears;
Eternal Lord, the King of all the ages,
Unchanging still, amid the passing years:
O living Word, the source of all creation,
Who spread the skies, and set the stars ablaze,
O Christ the same, who wrought our whole salvation,
We bring our thanks for all our yesterdays.

O Christ the same, the friend of sinners, sharing
Our inmost thoughts, the secrets none can hide,
Still as of old upon your body bearing
The marks of love, in triumph glorified;
O Son of Man, who stooped to us from heaven,
O Prince of life, in all your saving power,
O Christ the same, to whom our hearts are given,
We bring our thanks for this the present hour.

O Christ the same, secure within whose keeping
Our lives and loves, our days and years remain,
Our work and rest, our waking and our sleeping,
Our calm and storm, our pleasure and our pain:
O Lord of love, for all our joys and sorrows,
For all our hopes, when earth shall fade and flee,
O Christ the same, for all our brief tomorrows,
We bring our thanks for all that is to be.

From the Ministry Team           February 2001

With Candlemass, we come to the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season and reach a turning point. It is of course, a feast day, the day when Jesus was presented to God in the Temple. For the Holy Family it started as a day of thanksgiving but soon the celebration was overshadowed by Simeon‘s words of warning. Mary, like any mother, must have had many hopes and dreams for her son. Now this chilling prophecy warns her that the future holds pain a sword will pierce her heart. With those words, her joy gives way to dark fears.

The story acts as a metaphor for the Christian life. Our own pilgrimage is not without its darker moments. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed as we struggle to cope with so many difficulties: the pain of loss, of illness or despair, the times when we are assailed by doubts and fears, when faith is dimmed by the harsh realities of life. Where is God? we cry, echoing that cry of dereliction from the cross. Yet in our heart of hearts we know he is there with us, bringing his light of love into our darkness, walking beside us, sharing our sorrows. He is the light that can never be extinguished, the spark of faith implanted in us at our baptism which continues to burn through all our searching and questionings.

At Candlemass, we hold in our hands a symbol of that light and are reminded that Simeon declared Jesus as the light who will enlighten the Gentiles. Our candles lighten the darkness not only of our church but also of our hearts. Their cheerful light conveys God‘s promise to be with us always. It is such a tiny flame, but even the smallest flame can kindle a mighty forest fire. Within each one of us, that small flame burns, giving us the potential to do great things for God. As we turn away from the light and joy of Christmas towards the rigours of Lent, may God fan that flame so that we may grow in faith and love and service to the one who is the Light of the World.

Joyce Green

Dates for the Diary

Friday 2nd February
CANDLEMASS (The Presentation of Christ in the Temple)

7.30 am Holy Eucharist
 Preacher: The Reverend Irene Cowell
 (St Helen‘s, Sefton and St Frideswyde‘s, Thornton)

Wednesday 28th February
ASH WEDNESDAY: the first day of Lent

7.30 am Holy Eucharist and impotition of ashes
8.00 pm SOLEMN MASS and imposition of ashes
 followed by Baked Bean Supper in the Hall
 and launch of the Lent project 2001:
 School of Faith, Malawi

Full details of remaining Lent services in next month‘s issue.

The United Benefice Dramatic Society  proudly presents   ‘ALADDIN‘
in St Mary‘s Church Hall, Waterloo Park Friday 16th February at 7.30 pm, Sartuday 16th February at 2.30 pm and 7.30 pm
Admission £3 (Concessions £2)

We‘re all dreaming of a Christ-free Christmas

Two more in our series of recent newspaper articles to give us pause for thought at the beginning of a New Year. In the first JONATHAN FREEDLAND argues that, if we called this time of year ?winterval‘ or some such, Christians would be able to reclaim their religious festival.

You can stop dreaming of a white Christmas: global warming has seen to that. You can forget about a Christian Christmas, too; thanks to the dramatic transformation of British society, that‘s also become a long-ago memory of Christmas Past.

The number of Britons who marked Christmas as a religious festival celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ is dwindlingly few. Fewer than a million people attend a Church of England service each week: even if those figures tripled for midnight mass on Christmas Eve or again on Christmas morning it would still amount to just one in 20 of us.

Instead, Britons seem to have reached a consensus, agreeing that Christmas is nothing more than a national holiday, an end-of-year blow-out of television, rich food and consumerism all carried to excess. As so often, it is the very young who reveal the trend most clearly: of 1,200 eight-to-16 year-olds surveyed, 67 per cent said they associate the festive season with Santa Claus. Only eight per cent linked Christmas with Christ.

It‘s not just the old clic…hé  about Christmas being hijacked by commercialism. The Christian content of the festival has been actively drained out of it. Scan the bumper television listings and you‘ll find the ?God-slot‘ shoved into the very early morning or the very late night: primetime is faithless.

Or take the images that our government ministers selected for their mass-mailed ?Christmas‘ cards. Tony Blair substituted little baby Leo for little baby Jesus, with the Prime Minister and wife, Cherie, in the Joseph and Mary roles. Pundits have claimed to see a manger-like set-up to the picture, but it‘s a bit of a stretch. The message of the card is New Labour, New Father —- not the Nativity. Mr Blair‘s colleagues opted for equally non-Christian, if less narcissistic, images. David Blunkett picked a London skyscape, Mo Mowlam a Paul Klee abstract, Jack Straw a white dove against a purple background.

The words themselves are equally Christ-free. Whether it‘s a card from the Chancellor, the BBC or the Guardian, the message gingerly tiptoes around any mention of the chap who gave his name to the festival: `Season‘s Greetings‘ is the preferred alternative. (The Office of National Statistics has come up with its own twist, by wishing its friends ?seasonally adjusted greetings‘). In conversation, the same rule applies. Only the passé still say `Merry Christmas‘. The new formulation is ?Happy New Year‘; even in early December, the cause for celebration is not theological, but chronological.

What explains this flight from the classic Yuletide imagery of Bethlehem, kings, frankincense and myrrh? Why has Christmas become the festival that dare not speak its name? It cannot be put down to a rampant atheism, at least not in a Cabinet whose luminaries shine with Christian Socialism. So why this deChristianisation of Christmas?

The answer is clear: ethnic diversity. Brown‘s careful wording, like the BBC‘s, is designed to be inclusive, to make no non-Christian feel shut out. ?Season‘s Greetings‘ has become the British equivalent of the American ?Happy Holidays‘ — a catch-em-all term that covers every option.

And it makes sense, too. For this is indeed the season of holidays and holy days. This year the Jewish festival of Chanukah coincided precisely with Christmas, while Muslims marked the post-Ramadan feast of Eid-ul-Fitr. Hindus celebrated Diwali and Sikhs gave thanks for the birth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. In that context, ?happy holidays‘ is not just a platitude: it is an umbrella heading that leaves no one uncovered.

Even spelling it as `Xmas‘ helps. That way it becomes a  national holiday, a period that belongs to no faith in particular but anyone who wants to enjoy it. This new Christmas-without-Christ even seems to be working, taking the sting out of a time of year that once spelt discomfort for Britain‘s religious minorities. Most adult Jews still burn with childhood memories of silently miming along to the school carol service — for fear of accidentally uttering the  sacred words of another faith. But witness columnist Ann Karpf, writing in the Jewish Chronicle: `What I know now is that Xmas isn‘t about Christ, it‘s about tinsel. Basically, this is a shared, annual celebration of kitsch‘.

Most Britons will probably be glad to hear that their country is becoming even friendlier and more hospitable to its non-Christian minorities. They may even regard it as essential, as they glance at this month‘s report that Birmingham and Leicester are set to become the first British cities with majority non-white populations — the latter perhaps as soon as 2011. In places where only a minority even identify nominally as Christian, casting the December holiday as a national, rather than religious event, is common sense.

But even if many tolerant Britons can see the necessity of a Christ-free Christmas, what should the minority who still define themselves as committed Christians make of it? Surely it can only be bad news for them?

Not necesssarily. Of course Christians will regret losing what was once a central place in national life. But closer inspection reveals a brighter possibility. For if this season is rebranded under a generic label — say ?winterval‘ or ?festival of light‘ — then Christianity might be blessed with a new lease of life. Instantly it could take its place as one of the (admittedly minority) faiths of these diverse islands, with Christmas as one of its key religious festivals.

All the Yuletide tinsel, television and tat could be sloughed off like so much dead skin — and handed over to the national culture, where it belongs and where it might be shared by everyone. Christmas would then regain its rightful place, as a holy day as precious to Christians as Chanukah is to Jews and Eid is to Muslims.

For too long the holy story of the Nativity has been drowned out by The Wizard of Oz and the ritual double dose of EastEnders. It‘s time Christians let go of the `festive season‘ they lost long ago — and claimed instead the holy Christmas that is truly theirs. Britain‘s non-Christian minorities would cheer them all the way.

Our Archbishops are Hardly Racist                        A.N.Wilson

The second article takes up the cudgels on behalf of the C of E and against the excesses of political correctness, thus easily persuading the editor to reprint it here. Those who think either article mischievously controversial, or simply not relevant to St Faith‘s, are warmly invited to respond — or just to write something about what is happening within our doors. Ed.

It has been announced that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are to attend a 24-hour residential course on racial awareness. These kind and good men have taken this decision after it was discovered that the Church of England, like the Metropolitan Police, was riddled with ?institutional racism‘.

Clearly, institutional racism, like dry rot, is a plague which can be present in a house without any of its inhabitants being aware of it. As a lifelong Anglican, attending various high churches, I had  thought that the Church was rather ahead of the rest of society in racial matters. There actually seems something wicked in stirring up the fictitious notion that this group of well-intentioned Christians unconsciously harbour hatred in their hearts for other races. Was it not a group of Anglican monks, the Community of the Resurrection, in South Africa, and above all Father Trevor Huddleston, CR, who did more than any other group of Europeans to alert the world to the evils of apartheid? That was very nearly half a century ago. According to a recent report, to be debated at the General Synod of the Church of England later this month, non-white Anglicans now feel ?alienated, lonely and excluded‘ when they come to church. The report complains that there is a ?glass ceiling‘ which prevents many ?ethnic minority Anglicans‘ from becoming vicars.

All this sounds sad, but one wonders whether the explanations for it are to be found in the comparatively recent science of ?race relations‘ and political correctness rather than in observable human character traits? I have to admit that I hardly ever attend church these days. But have things really changed so dramatically since I drifted out of the Mass-going habit? In the bricky, incense-laden shrines where I spent so much of my uncynical earlier life, and for which I still feel a strong affection, at least half the congregations would tend to be black. Singing hymns to the Eucharistic mystery, surrounded by beautiful women of Caribbean origin, I found it hard to think that the afterlife could provide any heaven more sublime. Stuffy churchmen deplored the introduction into the liturgy of the ?kiss of peace‘. Not I, in such surroundings.

While I sat with the mothers and daughters, their lanky sons, up to the age of about  11  or  12,  would  be  seen  in  the  sanctuary,  serving  the  altar.  It  did
sometimes  cross my mind  to wonder  whether  any of them would choose to be ordained, but only a few seconds‘ reflection explained to me why, in the majority of cases, this was rather unlikely. ?All Gas and Gaiters‘ and the novels of Barbara Pym might here come in more useful for the Archbishops than their 24-hour racial awareness course. The Anglican curate is by tradition a little bit wet. The usual unfair jokes about the third sex, are untranslatable into an Afro-Caribbean context, where, for the most part men are men, women are women and indigenous whites are mild jokes. Of course, this is to rehash gross stereotypes, and it is obvious that there are exceptions to the rule. But if it is true that young men of African or Afro-Caribbean descent do not want to go to theological colleges and train for a no-hope, badly-paid job as a vicar where everyone assumes they are pansies, is this surprising? Go to any of the churches I describe — the very pillars of Anglo-Catholicism — and you will find the altar-boys, black and white, go off religion as soon as they discover girls. Like quiche, High Mass isn‘t for real men — it is for women, and homosexuals and sad people like me. In short, though it might surprise the racial awareness experts to realise it, more or less everyone in church feels ?alienated, lonely and excluded‘: that‘s why we go there.

While I am no doubt putting my foot in it badly, may I offer the Archbishops another generalisation? To anyone who isn‘t on a racial awareness course it should be blindingly obvious, but no doubt the kindly people in Church House are too polite to mention it: the ordination of women to the priesthood has put paid to the idea of many black men even considering it as a profession for themselves. There might have been some chance of persuading the black altar-boys to carry on going to church during their adolescence and then considering ordination, if the old ?chauvinist‘ ethos of the High Church world prevailed. But it doesn‘t. It has all been swept away — as most enlightened church members desire. But feminist and racial liberalism are not always culturally compatible.

If everything I have written above merely proves that I am unconsciously racist (which I know I‘m not), then what positive, uncynical advice can one offer the Archbishops? If I‘m right, there is about as much likelihood of a streetwise young black man wishing to become a priest alongside women as there is of a miner‘s son choosing to become a ballet dancer. Why not a recruitment drive based on a film? Could not some sympathetic Anglican write the screenplay of ?Father Elliot‘? Since unemployment among young black males is so high and since the shortage of Anglican clergy is so acute, it is obvious that the Church of England could, here, be on to a winner. The CofE is guilty of many follies, but not the sin of race hatred. It distresses all those who love it to see the archbishops flagellating themselves for a sin of which they are incapable.

In Memoriam: Lord Runcie remembered                   Chris Price

On Wednesday, 8 November of last year Fr Dennis, Rick Walker and I paid a flying visit (literally) to London to represent St Faith‘s at the official Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Runcie. We were lucky to be seated well forward in the North Lantern of Westminster Abbey, among the great and the good of the Anglican Church (just behind Terry Waite and quite close to Lady Runcie and her children, James and Rebecca, both of whom took part in the service). It was not a day for open-necked shorts or jeans: posh frocks and  even posher hats were the order of the day, and the distinctly up-market stewards were splendidly tail-coated and elegant.

It was an inspiring occasion: ceremonial and worship of great style and dignity in an Abbey full to capacity, with, we were told, many unable to get tickets. Royalty were there, as were Prime Ministers and cabinet ministers, cardinals and patriarchs (or people who looked as if that was what they were), and a host of ordinary people who had simply known and loved Robert Runcie.

The service was filled with marvellous words and music. This moving prayer well represents the words spoken and prayed on that day:

God of love, who knows us and loves us as we are, we thank you for Robert, for his sense of fun, his humour and his humanity. We give thanks for his friendship, his love for family and friends, and for the way he made each person feel special. We bless you, Lord, for his quiet prayerfulness, for his ability to laugh at himself and for his keen sense of the ridiculous. Help us, who mourn his loss, to treasure our memories of him and find the friendly comfort of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The music was lovely too: highlights were `Jesus Christ the Apple Tree‘, the Rutter ?Gaelic Blessing‘ and, most movingly, a rendering by James Bowman and the Abbey Choir of the Creed from an Eastern Orthodox Liturgy (echoing that used at his consecration in 1980, with the exclusion of the `filioque‘ clause in deference to his many Orthodox friends and admirers). There were, thank the Lord, also plenty of humorous anecdotes. My favourite came from the fine sermon preached by his ex-chaplain and now Bishop of London, Richard Chartres (who came with him to St Faith‘s in the 1980s). He recalled how, not
long before his death, an anxious attendant in, I think, a nursing home, asked Lord Runcie if he was allergic to anything. `Only Eastenders‘, he replied!

The service, like Lord Runcie‘s archiepiscopate, contained much of the best of the Church of England. It, and the man whom it honoured and for whom it so splendidly gave thanks, is perhaps best summed up by another recollection from the sermon. A working priest from a disadvantaged urban priority parish, speaking of the impact of the controversial report `Faith in the City‘, with which Archbishop Runcie was closely identified, said of it that it made him proud again to belong to the Church of England. I think that, as we came out of the Abbey to the joyful pealing of its great bells, we felt that, too.

Back at St Faith‘s, plans for the Runcie Window are continuing to take shape. The PCC has given its blessing to the project (to be funded, we very much hope, entirely by voluntary subscriptions). Bishop James has not only, as previously reported, said that he would like to dedicate it in due course, but has agreed to be Patron of the Appeal and to help, where possible, with funding and with fundraising ideas. Soundings are being taken at the dreaded D.A.C. (yes, the ?f-word‘ again!) Money is beginning to come in nicely, and we hope soon to launch a systematic appeal. Funding, or the promise of funding, large or small, continues to be very welcome: more news soon.

From the Registers

5 November Kara-Lilian Grey
  daughter of Kristine and Tony
3 December Katherine Monica Haywood
  daughter of James and Glenys
  Joel Christopher Nicol
  son of Reginald and Angela
  Holly Perzamanos
  daughter of George and Helen

29 November Patricia Rossiter

7 January Doris Halsall

Moving Towards Lent                Fr Dennis

`Take heed lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.‘ (Deuteronomy 6:12)

`Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.‘  (Hebrews 4:7)

Lent is a time for us to think. We need to take time every now and then: time in which we can look at ourselves for a brief moment, and consider what we are, what we should be, what we would like to be. Perhaps above all, we should try and consider what God would have us be.

Lent can be for us a time for increasing our self-knowledge, deepening our awareness of God, putting ourselves more completely in his hands, trying to conform to what we believe he would have us be.

What guidance, what standards, does our religion give us to follow in this search for conformity to Christ? Let us consider two aspects, from the above- quoted texts.

In the first text we hear something of the authority of the Law, as given by God to his people in the Old Testament. The recital three times each day of verses 4 to 9 from Deuteronomy 6 is the principal act of devotion of every pious Jew; it is called the `Shema‘ (?Hear...‘) It contains the great commandment of the Law, the love of the covenant — God, repeated by Jesus himself: ?You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.‘ To this the Lord added a second commandment: ?You shall love your neighbour as yourself.‘ This in fact comes from Leviticus 19:18 but together these two quotations wonderfully sum up the divine Law. If we have decided to follow Jesus we must do as he tells us, and he requires us to follow the Law — not because we fear God‘s punishment, nor simply because it is a law, but because Christ has shown us that the object is love, love of God and love of our fellow human beings.

In our second text, from the Letter to the Hebrews, we learn something of the need of faith. From the Old Testament, the writer gives examples of failure of faith, the opposite of faith — namely unbelief, and the sad consequences that befell those who were disobedient, and therefore did not enter God‘s ?rest‘ — meaning here the Kingdom of God.

It is not enough for us to believe in Christ, or to listen to his teaching, or to wait hopefully for him to reform and change us — we must actually do what he tells us. We should constantly compare ourselves, as we are, with the ideal that Jesus sets before us. We must strive to conform to the gospel. Jesus says, ?You are my friends if you do as I command you‘. On occasion he even complains about the apostles‘ disobedience: ?Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?‘ So, what about us?

Jesus compares himself to a vine and the sap which circulates through the whole plant, the trunk and the branches which are his disciples. If we are cut off from the main stem, we wither and die. Here Christ is speaking about a degree or quality of change which is like a leaven in our lives, permeating everything, and conforming us to Christ and God. We can only do this in, and with, the Spirit. It is this Spirit we need and this Spirit which is the gift Jesus promises to us. But we are never to forget that we need to think for ourselves, however much we hope and expect the help of the holy Spirit. We have our human responsibility and our human values, and we must always have a respect for the proper use of our mind and our will, which we use to make our own decisions.

The text from Hebrews is a brief poem on the subject of the Word of God. What the writer is saying is that God‘s Word has been given to us not just to be understood, grasped by our minds, and studied, but also to be lived by. It transforms our lives, but only if it is listened to, respected, assimilated and above all, actually done. Only if we treat it like this can we be able to come to the throne of grace, to Jesus, who is the Son of God, yet born as human, so knowing us and our weaknesses, but ever ready to support us with his strengths.

Here is a Lenten Programme: Begin to know ourselves well enough to know how to act, and know ourselves well enough to be able to love.

A Housing Problem

This scurrilous piece, from a school magazine, was submitted to Newslink many years ago by DAVID GODFREY. Apologies to all those who think it didn‘t deserve another airing ... Ed.

A married couple from Liverpool viewed a house in the country. On their returning home they suddenly remembered they had not noticed where the WC was, so they wrote to the local Vicar, who had shown them round the house. Being ignorant of the term WC, the Vicar thought that they meant the Wesleyan Chapel. Imagine the couple‘s surprise when they received the following letter from him:

Dear Sir,

I regret to inform you that the nearest WC in your area is ten miles away from your house. This is rather unfortunate if you are in the habit of going at all regularly. However, it may interest you to know, that many people take lunch with them and make a day of it. By the way, it will accommodate 1,000 people, and it has recently been decided to replace the wooden seats with plush ones to ensure more comfort for anyone who has to sit for a long time before the proceedings begin. Those who can spare the time walk, others go by train and get there just in time. I myself never go. There are special facilities for the women, presided over by the minister who gives help if they need it; the children sit together and sing during the proceedings. The last time my wife went was twelve months ago and she had to stand all the time. The minister stands in full view of everyone so it is not difficult to hear him. He is somewhat long-winded at times.

I can assure you that the WC is a most popular place, and all who go there leave something behind them, and come away feeling relieved.

Hoping this will be of much use to you and trusting that you will be able to go regularly.

Yours faithfully,

PS.  Hymn sheets can be found behind the door.



In a sudden dream, somewhere in the night,
I wake to walk a high and winding way,
Strung out along an upland sea-washed meadow
Shelving green to some wave-bound sleeping western shore.

Gulls cry, unheard, haunting the folded cliffs;
Bright flowers I cannot name blow in a soft wind;
Butterflies swerve and flicker in intricate dance.

But now, in the silent transition of a vision,
I am at the shining water‘s edge.
A warm air ruffles the still sea spaces:
Fish gleam in the lucent depths.
Perhaps boats are moving, dream-like, on that horizon,
Where, in line astern, convoyed under a setting sun,
Islands glide soundlessly into banks of glowing cloud.

Once more, now, the upland fields, sweet and flower-studded,
Guide me, effortlessly and entranced, towards some hidden height
Where there will surely open to my dazed and wondering eye
All that is promised.

The silent vision fades. I fall to troubled sleep.
Soon the alarm will sound.

Chris Price

My Spellcheker

I halve a spelling Chequer,
It came with my pea sea,
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight four it to say
Weather eye am wrong or write;
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
It‘s rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it.
I am shore your pleased two no!
It‘s letter perfect awl the weigh —
My chequer tolled me sew!

Portrait of Love
Submitted by JOHN CHAPMAN

Picture a portrait in your mind,
 See a loved one there.
Here the trickling of a stream,
 Smell the scented air.
See your loved one sitting
 Beneath the setting sun.
Happy and contented
 Now the day is done.
See the glowing sunset
 Red with golden hue.
Fill that portrait with a love,
 You know is deep and true.
Know that as you send your love,
 Your loved one does the same.
Now seal your portrait with a kiss
 And place within a frame.

Jackie Parry quoted this poem, by MAJOR MALCOLM BOYD,
a soldier killed on D-Day, in a sermon at St Faith‘s,
and we are giving it a deservedly wider audience.

If I should never see the moon again
Rising red gold across the harvest field,
Or feel the stinging of soft April rain
As the brown earth her hidden treasures yield:

If I should never hear the thrushes wake
Long before sunrise in the glittering dawn,
Or watch the huge Atlantic rollers break
Against the rugged cliffs in baffling scorn:

If I have said goodbye to stream and wood,
To the wide ocean and the green-clad hill,
I know that He who made this world so good
Has somewhere made a heaven better still.

This I bear witness with my latest breath:
Knowing the love of God I fear not death.


If God were as ungenerous as man,
He would make cabbages, to feed the kine,
On some unbeautiful and heavy plan,
Meet for mere beasts. But in his craft divine
He fashions them, and colours them instead
With gold and misty blues amid the green,
Softly with purple, gallantly with red.
He curves their leaves and traces veins between;
Bejewels them with drops of rain and dew;
Caresses them with wind, and, crowning boon,
With lunar light transfigures them anew —
Great silver roses ‘neath the autumn moon.

Teresa Hooley

Diary of an Ordinand                 Denise McDougall

Having completed my first term at the Northern Ordination Course, I feel both a sense of relief and also a great sense of joy and satisfaction in that I have met all the demands of the course. It has not been an easy term but I am beginning to settle into the new routine and feel more confident about things generally (well slightly!) and I am adjusting to the huge changes which have taken over such a big chunk of my life. There is no turning back and despite the efforts of juggling the course, home life and school work I know that God is not giving me the option to change my mind. (Not that I want to, but have to confess that I have considered that option on a couple of occasions since last September).

The work load has been tough and the Monday lectures very challenging academically and the weekends, although slightly less academic, are very full and quite intense. The worship however during the residentials continues to be so uplifting and inspiring. It is an absolute privilege to be a part of them. I have already been sacristan and server at one of the Eucharist services. Also during the weekends we have a development group of about 8 people and the support and encouragement from those within the group is particularly valuable. It is also reassuring to realise that many others are experiencing similar emotions or concerns.

Throughout January I have to complete a Church and Society module. I hope that a small number of you will allow me to interview you about life in our parish. (Nothing too daunting — I promise!). The module is designed to enable the students to think theologically and critically about the context in which the Christian Church operates today. The project also requires two years of PCC minutes to be analysed, some detailed research and various statistics. Later on in the year all the information will be collated in order to write a reflective essay. I will leave a copy at the back of church.

The term finished on a social note when all the ordinands in the Diocese met at Bishop David‘s house for a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining Christmas party, the entertainment being provided by deacons ordained earlier this year. One young man, who told me that there was life after NOC, and that the first term is the hardest, did give me hope for next term!

May I wish you all a very peaceful and happy 2001 and may I also ask for your continued support and prayers. With my love and prayers to you all.

Church and Trade Union Network                     Mike Homfray

The Churches and the trade unions have often walked side by side in a search for social justice, and in Liverpool a network exists to promote closer working on issues of joint concern. I recently attended a meeting organised by this network, which looked at some new ideas with regard to welfare benefits which have been promoted as possible alternatives to the system we have operating at the moment ™ which, irrespective of political preference, is not at all easy to negotiate and has many acknowledged disincentives.

The ideas were that of a ?Citizen‘s Income‘, which guarantees a recurrent cash benefit, financed by taxation, payable throughout adult life to every individual with neither work entitlement nor means test. Benefits would then not be stigmatised, would avoid much of the bureaucratic and disincentive difficulties, and the distinction between paid and unpaid work would be blurred. However, the idea has been criticised for being utopian and in opposition to present societal culture, and not matching with rights with responsibilities. The meeting took the form of two presentations followed by some interesting and searching discussions. It was fairly sparsely attended, and most of the Church attendees were from the Roman Catholic Church. They could do with some support, and I know that they would be pleased to add anyone interested to the mailing list ™ please feel free to pass your name to me in Church or email me on:

Have YOU Completed a Gift Aid Form?

If you wish St Faith‘s Church to claim tax back on your contributions during the current tax year it is essential that you complete a GIFT AID DECLARATION FORM within the next few weeks. Forms can be obtained from the back of Church or by contacting me.

If you are not sure whether you have completed a Declaration Form, or if you require any information about this excellent method of boosting Church funds at no expense to yourself please contact me.

Chris Dawson
Telephone: 0151-928 2770 E-mail

Frantic but Fun               Chris Price

It didn‘t look too bad on the pages of the Church Diary: the usual pre-Christmas activities, with perhaps the odd extra bit of organising — and of course it would all have to fit round the pantomime rehearsals. In the event, it added up to what seemed like a non-stop, wall-to-wall parade of happenings, mostly involving rushing around with refreshments and party games, so that by the time Christmas actually dawned it was so good just to sit back and sing a few carols and stay awake during  the Midnight Sermon.

The November Dinner Merry-go-Round was a painless curtain-raiser: as much fun as ever and a tradition well worth maintaining. For this household it merely meant making coffee for everyone as they arrived, bloated, from various points of the compass. The marvellous concert recital by Jacqueline Fugelle (what a voice!) a few days later was even more relaxing. But that weekend saw the Crosby Symphony Orchestra Concert. Normally they serve the audience tea and biscuits, and those of us who attend queue up with all the rest. This time, we served the tea and biscuits — to some 200 patrons!

And then it was well and truly December, kicking off with the Advent Carol Service: as lovely and devotional as usual, with the usual moving music and readings coming out of the darkness — and the usual refreshments to dole out afterwards to visitors from the Waterloo and Seaforth churches. It was the following weekend when the organisers and caterers were really called on to show what they were made of. On the Saturday morning it seemed as if they were made of scissors, sellotape, fancy biscuits, sticky-back plastic and crisps and coke: it was the annual Children‘s Activity and Craft Morning and we are still washing glitter out of hair and looking for bits of food behind the radiators. After that it was hardly worth going home, because the next day was the joint Children‘s Church party at St Mary‘s. There was more fun and games, there was Father Christmas (with the usual discreetly frantic last-minute scramble to smuggle in presents for the unexpected) — and of course there was jelly and buns and sweeties and mess to clear up at the end.

For some there was the interlude the next week of the evening of Seasonal Readings and Music at the Hollands‘ stately home (just sausage rolls to take along!) before the big event: the Christmas Lunch in St Faith‘s Hall for the (careful with the wording) not-quite-so-young-as-they-were. Despite the limitations of our kitchen, this precision-organised operation went with its usual  swing,  delivering,  to a full  and appreciative  hall  (see the letter below,
with some other letters and a few photos, at the back of church)  soup, turkey with the trimmings, pudding and afters, not to mention silly hats, carol singing and crackers (the sort you pull, not how we felt by then).

By now Christmas was just round the corner: just the Christingle assembly line (oranges, cordless power drill, sharp sticks, more sweeties and silver paper to the accompaniment of yet more refreshments). Oh, and the Christmas flowers. And standing by at the Christingle itself with fire extinguishers primed, and hoping there wasn‘t too much wax to scrape up afterwards.

Looking back, it was all Jolly Good Fun and we will gladly do it all again (well, we won‘t have much choice, will we?) To all who helped with any, many, or in a few gallant cases, more or less all of these many and varied activities, and especially those who organised these events, together with all involved in all the other, sometimes unseen activities preparing for our church Christmas (cleaning, ironing, polishing, trimming, making music or clambering over the roof to replace tiles and keep the rain out) must go the heartfelt thanks of the family of St Faith‘s. Come to think of it, they are the family of  St Faith‘s.

Letter to the Editor

The Editor
St Faith‘s Church

I would like to thank all those who organised, prepared and served Christmas Lunch on the 17th December last to the re-cycled teenagers of the congregation. Your efforts are very much appreciated.

Also to Father Neil and Father Dennis who led us in community carols.

A very enjoyable afternoon.

A grateful

Ken Hollis.

Letter to the Vicar

19 Sundew Court
West Hunsbury

Dear Fr Neil

Last Wednesday, when I was tracing the footsteps in Liverpool of my father, Harcourt Lightburne, you very kindly showed me round St Faith‘s and showered me most generously with copies of the church‘s centenary publications.

It was very good to see a church so clearly alive and active. I can well imagine that my father enjoyed St Faith‘s. I know that beauty and dignity in worship meant a lot to him. In later years he called himself a Prayer Book Catholic and was much influenced by Percy Dearmer.

I knew that he had only a short time at St Faith‘s, but had forgotten how very short that was:… only 5 weeks‘ duty in May and June 1913. He kept the cover and some pages of the June 1913 parish magazine, a photocopy of which I enclose.

Thank you again for your welcome. I enclose a small cheque to go towards the Runcie window.

Yours sincerely,
Sylvia Lightburne

See the article below for some of the words from that 1913 magazine.  Ed.

St Faith‘s in 1913

On Sundays, May the 11th, 18th and 25th, the Vicar was assisted by the REV. H.LIGHTBURNE, M.A., who was formerly assistant Curate at St Margaret‘s, Anfield, under the Rev. Canon Wakeford.


The Class will not meet again until October. The Vicar and Mrs Baxter entertained the members at Tea in the Club-room of the Parish Hall on May 18th, and found that a most pleasant surprise was in store for them, as they were presented by the Class with a Thermos flask and a leather hand-bag, respectively. We hope for a reinforcement of our numbers when the Autumn Session begins.


Mr G. E. Lewis has received the sum of £7.10.0, the proceeds of an entertainment given by the Pom Poms, all of whom, with one exception, are members of the Bible Class.


Subscribers to the CURACY FUND are asked to continue their subscriptions regularly month by month, for although we have no Curate at present, occasional clerical help has to be provided for, and we wish to have a substantial balance in hand, when the Rev. T .R. Musgrave comes, so that there will be no cause for anxiety on financial grounds.

`Baby Georgina Edwards‘                Joyce Green

For almost two years now, this name has appeared on our list of those for whom our prayers are requested. Many people have asked who this child is, and why she has been on the list for so long. Georgina is the great-granddaughter of Doris Halsall and it was Doris who had originally asked for her to be prayed for. Doris told me that Georgina‘s life expectancy was very short, a matter of months. Last year I had the privilege of conducting Doris‘s funeral, and there I met her daughter Wilma, who is Georgina‘s grandmother, and she told me all about her ?little miracle,‘ which is how she sees her granddaughter.

Georgina has a genetic defect which means that she cannot absorb protein. It is a rare illness and inevitably leads to a child living only a few months. However, she was two in September, no longer a baby, and the doctors cannot explain how she has lived so long. Wilma feels that it is thanks to all the prayers and asks that we keep on praying for Georgina. She wrote to me at Christmas, and the following is an extract from her letter:

I have just had two of the best Christmas presents ever, firstly Georgina can now sit up, and on Sunday she ate three tiny pieces of chocolate cake ™ her first food by mouth since July 1999. ………I am so grateful for your prayers. Please thank all those good people of St. Faith‘s without whom I‘m sure she would not still be with us. Please tell them how all the professors at the Radcliffe Hospital can do nothing to help Georgina as they told us when they offered us an emergency baptism at the hospice. She has come this far on love and prayers alone and is very strong and happy today. Georgina is still developing, albeit very slowly, and if the good Lord will allow, a cure is about nine years away. Please, please, I beg you to continue to pray for our little angel and one day I hope that she will walk down the aisle of St.Faith‘s to meet you all.

Wilma sent me a photograph of Georgina which is reproduced here ™ apparently the sulky look is because she didn‘t like her hat! If ever we needed an incentive to continue our prayers, this photograph and the moving words above provide it.

Of Fallen Angels                Chris Price

St Faith‘s has, like so many churches in recent months, been plagued with vandalism of one sort or another. Some weeks before Christmas, some lads got in to church through an unlocked door, made their way to the Chapel of the Cross, and attacked the angel statue, breaking off portions of the plaster work and bending some of its metalwork. The sculptress, Ms Tilly Wilkinson, who created the figure as the centrepiece of the Celebration Festival in 1975, has inspected the damage and thinks that it would be a major (and quite expensive) job to take it away and repair it. She has most generously agreed to replace it with a smaller, ?table top‘ version free of charge, so we have sadly agreed that in due course the big figure will be removed and recycled (or whatever you do with angels).

Damage to another part of our artistic heritage was caused more recently by a failed attempt to break in to church. The perpetrator(s) would seem to have scrambled up to the aisle roof by way of a drain-pipe, and then removed a body-sized section of high-level plain leaded glass lights before probably abandoning the attempt when they realised how high off the floor they were. (It‘s probably just as well they didn‘t drop in: they would only have sued us if they had damaged themselves!). Unfortunately, on the way up, they had bashed against the polycarbonate protecting the  low-level window. It didn‘t break, but the pressure damaged the Whitefriars stained glass inside, confirming what we had suspected for some time, that the protective polycarbonate sheeting was set too close to the glass inside (more work needed!). And then two days later, the little darlings tried to set fire to the hall door, and followed this up some time later with an attack on the Vicarage fence. …

We are doing all we can to safeguard our property. We polycarbonate as many windows as we can afford: at the time of writing there are some 30 breakages on various unprotected windows. We are hoping for Diocesan funding to provide security cameras. And we are extra careful about locking ourselves in when visiting church other than at service times and dutifully reporting all relevant incidents to the police. The sad fact is that churches are a major target at present, and safety and security cost money.…

Group Visits to Residential Homes         Brenda Riddick

A bevy of volunteers is better than one! Would you like to join a group of older people entertaining and pampering the residents of Rest Homes etc in the Crosby area?

Sefton O.P.E.R.A (Older Persons Enabling Resource And Action), are looking for mature people who would like to visit the elderly with a group rather than by themselves. You may be already involved with someone in a Rest Home and feel isolated during your visits. A group could help.

We have arranged with four Homes to visit on the following dates. Please feel free to join us to see what we are trying to do. Tell us of anything that you feel would improve the quality of life for the elderly.

  February 2001   March 2001
Warren Grange Thursday 1st and 15th  1st, 15th and 29th
The Knowles Tuesday 6th and 20th   6th and 20th
Tithebarn (Art) Thursday 8th and 22nd   8th and 22nd
The Croft Tuesday 13th and 27th  13th and 27th

You can phone m on 474 9445. The O.P.E.R.A. Coordinator is Ann Mardell. The Office number is 330 0479.

What the Devil ...

Two youngsters were walking home from Sunday School, each deep in his thoughts. Finally one said: ?What do you think about all this devil business they were on about today?‘

The other boy replied thoughtfully: ?Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. This is probably just your Dad, too.‘

Pirates without Parrots                  Denis Griffiths

Robert Newton`s portrayal of Long John Silver and his memorable ?Ah ha, Jim lad‘, epitomises the common view of the pirate. Pirates of Hollywood fashion are faintly glamorous buccaneers who sailed the seas stealing Spanish gold, wore eye patches and had parrots perched on their shoulders. As with much that the film industry manipulates, reality was different: pirates were thieves, villains and murderers, they were not maritime versions of Robin Hood, if there ever was such a person. Pirates, however, still exist today; they do not carry cutlasses or pistols, but are armed with AK47s and rocket propelled grenades. Like their counterparts of days gone by the modern pirate is a vicious thug who uses violence in the cause of theft.

In many areas of the world piracy today is endemic; the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea, around the Philippines, and the coasts of West Africa and Brazil are all waters in which the modern day pirate plies his trade. This unpalatable fact was brought home to me during a recent trip from the Persian Gulf to Singapore on board a 308,000-ton oil tanker. The one thing that the modern pirate has in common with the outlaws of days gone by is the use of the rope and grappling iron to board the target ship. All ships offer potential booty for the pirate but loaded oil tankers are prime targets because their speed is rarely above 15 knots and they are loaded deeply in the water, thus presenting a relatively easy climb on board. Pirates of old were generally after treasure ships, the valuable cargo on board the ship and the precious possessions of the people on board the ship, possibly even the people themselves if a ransom could be commanded. The modern pirate has no interest in the ship or its cargo, only the money and other disposable valuable possessions of those on board. The ship on which I sailed was valued at about $50m and the cargo about $65m but disposing of the ship and its cargo would have presented problems; not so the money held on board or the personal possessions of the crew — and modern-day pirates are more than willing to use violence in order to obtain their booty.

Local state authorities are well aware of the piracy problem in their waters but those waters are often extensive and very difficult to police. Many of the local states have little money to spare for patrol boats and most of the pirates are well organised with fast boats and powerful electronic equipment which give warning of any military vessels in the area. For those on the merchant ships the only real safeguard is vigilance. Pirates invariably strike at night and because they operate in waters where small fishing boats are present it is impossible to distinguish between pirate vessels and innocuous fishing boats.

Although pirates can board the ship anywhere along the deck the stern regions are the most likely locations as they are less visible from the bridge. Normally at sea the deck areas are kept in darkness at night in order to enhance the night visibility of the navigators on the bridge but when in waters where pirates are known to operate the after deck is kept under full illumination. All access doors to the accommodation from the deck are locked and secured and the outside ladders from the uppermost accommodation deck to the navigating bridge deck are removed or blocked to prevent pirates from gaining access to the bridge. Such precautions were observed on board the ship on which I sailed, but one additional measure was also taken in order to prevent pirates gaining access to the deck of the ship itself.

Oil tankers are provided with tank-washing equipment, which consists of a rotating nozzle unit, a bit like the rotating garden sprinkler, which directs a high-pressure water jet against the sides of the cargo oil tank. Three of these water washing units were located at the sides of the ship, one on the port side, one on the starboard side and the other at the stern. At dusk these units were activated and throughout the hours of darkness they sprayed water jets along the sides of the ship and at the stern, the velocity of the jet being sufficient to discourage all but the most determined of pirates. The precautions worked, as we were neither boarded nor approached by pirates, but then again maybe we were just fortunate. Other ships are not so fortunate and the day before we reached Singapore the 2nd Navigating Officer showed me a telex message which warned that a ship off the northern coast of the Philippines had been fired on by pirates using a rocket-propelled grenade.

Should pirates gain access to a ship it is pointless to offer resistance, for they are highly armed and outnumber the crew on board a modern tanker or cargo ship; the tanker on which I sailed had a crew of 13 people. Seafarers face storms and other natural dangers in order to bring their ships safely to harbour but piracy is a man-made evil and it is as life-threatening now as it was to seafarers of earlier times. Britain no longer rules the waves but we have an obligation to seafarers, all seafarers, to ensure that the waters of the world are safe for the transit of all ships. Many of the coastal states of waters through which ships pass are too poor to provide comprehensive protection for all ships. Today very few ships or seafarers are British but much of the cargo is destined for Britain or originates in Britain. As a member of the international community we have an obligation to ensure that all who assist in promoting our trade can do so safely.

The words, `Hear us when we cry to thee,  For those in peril on the sea‘, are as true now as they have ever been.

From the Back Pew ...

`Put it This Way‘             Chris Price

Thanks to a fellow church magazine editor, who clearly shares a taste for the trivial and obscure, I have discovered  Fellow web-crawlers will recognise this as a website address — one which, just for the fun of it, rearranges names, or indeed any word or words, into anagrams: thousands and thousands of them.

 A recent wet afternoon saw me feeding in such phrases as S(ain)t Faith‘s Church (with and without Crosby), (Fr) Neil (G...) Kelley and, of course, Chris(topher) (D) Price. If you, too, have nothing better to do, enjoy this list of bizarre and occasionally appropriate anagrams, before, if so inclined and equipped, feeding in your own words.

Church Anagrams: this scarf hutch ... scratch fish hut .. ah hunt rich fascist (let me know when you identify him and we‘ll touch him for  a few quid) ... tin  hut arch (a nice thought) ... huh, fit thin carcass ... huh, frantic ass itch (sorry about that one) ... shifty rich hub ... fishy church abstraction ... and (my favourite, I think) sacrosanct fishy rib hutch.

Vicar Anagrams: Go feel, kill greenery (don‘t tell the flower ladies!) ... lily leg knee ... ken ill elegy ... elk eel groin elegy ... like one yeller egg ... leer fleeing gory elk and (most surreal of all?) fiery leg knell.

The Editor: chic hips reporter (rather fetching, I thought) ... rip porch heretic (most unfair, that one) ... hi crotch, perspire (well, I ask you!) .. or he chic stripper (no comment) and ... cries chirp! After which, it‘s time to sign off ...

    Rich Heir Prospect (I should be so lucky)

Serious Editorial Postscript.

I am grateful, as ever, for all those contributors who help to fill our pages so variously and, many people kindly say, entertainingly. More general articles than usual this month: a few more `church-specific‘ reports (choir? youth organisations?) would be very welcome. Ed.